First responders get 'thank yous' from Polk Co. community

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First responders in Polk County got a very special 'thank you' from 3,600 kids, from kindergarten to high school, in Polk County Thursday.

Letters written by the children and teens were presented to dozens of members of law enforcement, fire departments and emergency services at the Polk Sheriff's Office.

The first responders were handed packets of letters to take back to their departments, but an extra surprise was in store for them, as well.

What they didn't expect was Deputy Dustin Pantelone being singled out. Kathy Drainville, of Retired Senior Volunteers Program (RSVP), gave Pantelone a letter his daughter had written.

"It is hard not to see you often, but I thank you every day for protecting our state and for our country," she read.

Along with working for the Polk Sheriff's Office, Pantelone is with the National Guard, and just got back from a training.

Hearing his daughter's words was moving, but what came next was even more heartwarming. His 11-year-old daughter, Jacqueline walked out and presented him with a plaque and gave him a big hug.

"I was very surprised," he told FOX 13. "It was awesome."

The project was sponsored by RSVP, Polk Schools and Polk Reads.